He married Mary, daughter of Philip Wolverston of Wolverstone Hall, Suffolk, widow of Henry Knyvet. Together they had 3 sons and 2 daughters.
John and his father opposed Queen Mary and her husband Philip of Spain, and used his fleet to attack Spanish shipping in the Channel. Father and son were imprisoned in the Fleet in 1556 but were released after three weeks. On the accession of Elizabeth in 1558 he was restored to royal favour. Having been appointed a Commissioner to inquire into piracy, he himself was heavily engaged in the activity, trading with the smugglers and pirates who frequented the waters around Arwenack and became the subject of an official investigation in 1565. He succeeded his father in about 1568 and was knighted on 25 December 1576.
In January 1582 both he and his wife were suspected of involvement in a notorious act of piracy concerning a Spanish ship which had sheltered from a storm in an anchorage opposite Arwenack. It was said that he and his wife had overpowered or murdered the crew, stolen the cargo of cloth and ordered that the ship be disposed of in Ireland.
John died, heavily in debt, in 1584 and was buried in St Budock's Church, near Arwenack, where there is a mural monument to him, erected by his son, showing effigies of him and his wife facing each other kneeling in prayer. His brother Sir Henry had paid off some of his more pressing debts, but his son John entered on an inheritance which was already insolvent, and died a ruined man in 1605.
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